Edinburgh Together: Why Edinburgh is such a great city for beer & food
There’s no doubt about it, Edinburgh has both an amazing beer and food scene. It’s home to a mix of well-established breweries and up-and-coming breweries that are making waves. The diverse food scene cannot go unmentioned, from Michelin stars to deep-fried mars bars, and everything in between.
But what makes Edinburgh such a great city for beer and food?
We asked some of our friends of the festival to tell us in their words why Edinburgh rocks…
NEIL BLACKBURN: MARKETING MANAGER AT TEMPEST BREWERY
Edinburgh is a city of contradictions: historic yet progressive, touristy but undiscovered and the ugliness of the weather can’t hide its genuine beauty. This extends to the food and drink scene, where for every Michelin starred restaurant there’s a chippy with a poster in the window advertising deep-fried Mars Bars (smothered in salt ’n’ sauce obviously).
The explosion of innovative restaurants, food trucks and festivals in the last ten years has given rise to a newfound confidence and an insatiable local demand for new adventures in food and drink.
As a craft brewery based outside Edinburgh, we feel like anything but outsiders given the ever-increasing number of pubs and bottle shops that want our beer. This typifies the city’s openness towards small independent businesses like Tempest and a willingness to look beyond the obvious and search out those producers who do it differently and, dare I say, better.
KEITH SIMPSON, CO-OWNER OF HARAJUKU KITCHEN
We started as a street food stall back in 2009 and we absolutely love Edinburgh’s street food scene.
Locals and visitors love to try new things and there is such a variety of street food markets and pop-ups in the city, along with fantastic restaurants and bars. Our Harajuku gyoza goes down a treat with customers, plus they don’t mind paying a little extra for quality and authenticity.
People tend to go for independent food traders and craft beer distillers which is why the likes of Stockbridge Market and The Pitt are rammed every week. There’s so much choice that keeps customers coming back to try things from Japanese cuisine to jams, chicken burgers, and paella. The appetite for fresh, quick, and tasty street food continues to grow.
The street food scene is like one big family and we will often recommend one another to new customers and lend support where we can.
JONNY HAMILTON: NEWBARNS BREWERY
To me, what makes the city so great for food and beer is the combination of a strong community of people willing to help each other out to ensure the success of each other’s businesses and the coexistence of older, more established businesses with the very new.
It’s very easy (usually, ignore the last few months) to have a pub crawl around town which includes both classic boozers like Bow Bar, Guildford Arms, Bennet’s Bar and The Barony but also relative newcomers like Salt Horse, Brauhaus (has existed for a while but has been under new ownership for a few years now) and really new places like Lost in Leith (owned by our neighbours at Campervan Brewery).
And then you have all the in-between places that are neither old nor new. One of our favourite bars just off Leith Walk is a bar called Tourmalet which has some excellent cycling-themed trinkets all over the place. It’s also on the same street as Robbies Bar which is another stunningly old pub and does a nice pint of Tennents.
This fusion of modern and tradition extends to the food scene. At Newbarns you’re just as likely to see us snack on a morning roll or baked potato from one of Edinburgh’s many roll or baked potato shops (sadly a dying tradition) as you are to see us (or more likely me, solo) at the likes of Timberyard, Edinburgh Food Studio (sadly now gone), Elliots, or Borough in Leith. We plan to host an epic celebration of breakfast rolls called Roll Fest when we can safely do so at the brewery.
The community aspect is very important to me. Some days I just wander around town on a day off and pop in to see how everyone is doing, saying hello to my friends who also run their own small businesses.
FRASER DOHERTY, CO-FOUNDER OF BEER 52
Edinburgh is home to some amazing players within craft beer, like Pilot and the eagerly anticipated New Barns are the latest addition to the scene. Our independent craft beer bars, like Fierce, Salt Horse and Hanging Bat all showcase incredible beers.
As for food, we have a host of awesome places to check out like vegan hot spot Harmonium, homely Korean kitchen Kim’s Mini Meals or personal favourite lunch spot, the Pakora Bar.
JOHNNY HORN, CO-OWNER OF VAULT CITY
I love the great local produce and food stalls which pop up at the Castle Terrace and Stockbridge Farmers markets. There’s also such a wide variety of restaurants and plenty of hidden gems. Not too long ago found out about this Georgian place – Hungry Wolf which serves traditional Khachapuri – a bread boat filled with cheese!
The craft beer scene is second to none and all the great spots are generally walkable to each other ensuring some great beer crawls. The bar staff are also fantastic and form a really welcoming community in the city.
Edinburgh is definitely one of the best cities for food and drink whether you are a customer or in the business (I am not biased at all).
ROBIN STRIGNER: FOUNDER BUFFALO TRUCK
In Edinburgh we have a really strong scene of independent people doing food, people doing beers, loads of local events such as the Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival bringing all these independent people together.
We really do have so many guys that are just enthusiastic about what they do, none of it has a commercial feel, everyone is just doing it because they’re passionate about it.
PATRICK JONES: CO-OWNER OF PILOT BREWERY
Edinburgh, for the size of the city it is, which is tiny, has got a ridiculous beer scene. We’re based just around the corner from this [Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival] about a 2 minutes walk and it is just great having this on our doorstep.
We started 4 or five years ago doing our thing but now you got the likes of Vault City starting up in Edinburgh really at the plotting edge of brewing and then there is space for us guys who want to do good pints as well, that’s what’s really nice, it’s still really friendly, it’s still quite a small scene so we all help each other out, we all know each other so it’s a nice place to work!
LARAH BROSS: OWNER OF BROSS BAGELS
Edinburgh is such a dynamic city, and caters to millions of tourists every year, which makes it very competitive – and exciting.
Living in Scotland, I can appreciate how lucky we are to have some of the worlds best produce. It’s made me a foodie and I take great pleasure in revisiting our finest institutions that have been producing the same amazing dishes for years as well as all the hot spots offering niche, adventurous, culinary delights.
It’s hard not to eat a lot here….and eat well.
PETER SHERRY: OWNER OF BEER HIVE
Edinburgh excels in its food and drink culture for a multitude of reasons. Years of tourism have fine-honed what the city has to offer, ensuring that quality is at the forefront and an international array of cuisines is ubiquitous.
Thriving local food scenes from farmers’ markets and street food, to the finest Scottish restaurants, showcase the country’s unique culinary treasures.
In the last decade, the diversity of drinking establishments has developed rapidly, following closely the global zeitgeist to deliver plentiful choices for the more sophisticated palate.
Whether you’re here for a poke of chips, a late-night kebab or fine dining; traditional ales, curious craft beers or a simple lager, Edinburgh has it all.
So there you have it! Some great reasons why Edinburgh is such a great city for food and beer! We’re so happy to be able to showcase the amazing food vendors and breweries of Edinburgh at Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival and we can’t wait to see you in October!
If you haven’t got your tickets yet, head to edinburghcraftbeerfestival.co.uk/tickets
Your safety at our festival is our priority.